The theme for this year’s International Women's Day is #EmbraceEquity. Lancashire Mind will be embracing that theme but before we can truly embrace it, we need to be able to differentiate between an organisation that is equal, and one that is equitable. What does this mean for women? We can think of no one better to discuss the topic than our Adult Services Senior Coordinator, Naima.
Naima received the Bold Award at our 2022 Value Awards for her work in helping Lancashire Mind to be more inclusive and develop our diversity and cultural awareness. She has always been willing to speak out, challenge, and educate those around her to make positive change.
Equality Versus Equity
The Equality and Human Rights Commission states that ‘equality is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents’. Ultimately, it is to ensure that no matter a person's circumstances, they should be treated the same and offered the same opportunities in order to maintain equality.
But before this, and more importantly, people need to have an equal footing. Equity ensures that specific needs for specific groups of people are recognised and acknowledged to ensure that there is a level playing field to create this notion of equality. Equity refers to the provision of varying levels of support - based on specific needs - to achieve greater fairness of treatment and outcomes.*
To give an example of equity in action: if an organisation has an entrance that all employees must use and the entrance is there to ensure everyone has equal access to the building, yet the entrance does not have a ramp, it is inaccessible for someone in a wheelchair. The idea that offering the same thing to everyone equates to an equal society is far from the truth – to acknowledge differences and provide appropriate support is how we can ensure equity for all and as a result, equality.
Equity for Women
Gender equality does not mean that women and men will be treated the same, it means that women and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not be based upon their gender. In short, if gender equality is the goal, gender equity is the means.**
A report done by Pipeline shows:
· 90 percent of women leave the workforce due to workplace issues unrelated to having a child
· Half of the women in STEM fields will leave their roles due to hostile work environments
· In a time when finding qualified labour is an issue, women hold the majority of higher education degrees, but are leaving the workforce at a consistently higher rate. ***
These statistics help us understand how mental health and wellbeing impact on women due the disparity in gender equity and its detrimental impact on their work life balance, sense of worth and general outlook on life.
When we think about equity too, we must also bear in mind the intersectionality that comes with it. If being a woman is detrimental to your work and life chances, then being a woman of colour or a woman who is not physically abled or a woman who is neurodivergent will be an additional impact to that level of equitability. Therefore, really embracing equity is truly the way forward.
Let's Make the Changes
This International Women’s Day, we wanted to gain more of an understanding of why equity matters and why we want and need to #EmbraceEquity. Not only is this an end goal to eradicate inequality, but it is the truest and fairest way of doing it.
If we want to truly succeed, this means acknowledging that women have their own set of needs and requirements which will need addressing for women to thrive in the workplace and in society.
How Lancashire Mind is Embracing Equity
At Lancashire Mind we are working hard to #EmbraceEquity. Here are some of the ways in which we are doing it:
· Regular, comprehensive, and current equality, diversity and inclusion training for all employees
· Incorporating easy read marketing material into our campaign packs
· Designing and delivering on specialist services that are catered to specific community groups
* Equity v equality: What is the difference? (ThoughtCo)
** What is gender equality and why does it matter? - (Pipeline Equity)
*** What is gender equality and why does it matter? - (Pipeline Equity)